Monday, March 1, 2021

Marvel Immersion Project: Secret Wars #1-6

Secret Wars is often credited as the first comic book "event."  It was a 12-issue limited crossover series pulling together as many heroes and villains as possible from the Marvel universe.  Mattel had bought the license for Marvel-themed merchandise and they wanted a promotional series to coincide with the toy release.  In truth, there isn't much to the story: basically a battle royale between the goodies and the baddies.  And interestingly, the toys didn't sell very well.

However, the comic books themselves flew off of the shelves: the best-selling series in 25 years.  The impact on the industry was huge.  Nearly four decades later, crossovers are still the norm for both Marvel and DC.  Plus, some of the toy innovations in turn became permanent features of the Marvel comic book landscape.

Jim Shooter, lead writer for Secret Wars, was born September 27, 1951 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He has been working professionally in comic books since he was 14 years old.  In 1978, he became Editor-in-Chief for Marvel, a position he still held when he decided he himself was the best choice to write Secret Wars.  
While he is given loads of credit for putting the troubled company back on track, Shooter was a control freak and drove a lot of Marvel's best talent - Steve Gerber, John Byrne, Roy Thomas - to DC and elsewhere.  In fact, it was with Secret Wars that the biggest trouble began.  Marvel fired Shooter in 1987.  He went on to become Editor-in-Chief for Valiant Comics.


My Recent Reads

Secret Wars #1
Originally Published May 10, 1984
Writer: Jim Shooter
Artist: Michael Zeck
  • A group of good guys - Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four - and a group of bad guys - Dr. Doom, Magneto, Galactus, Doc Ock, etc. - have been plucked from their usual dwellings and dumped on a distant planet, Battleworld.  A mysterious being called the Beyonder has brought them together to fight one another, presumably for his own amusement.
  • There are a few new faces - for me, at least in the comics - on both sides.
    • Good guys:
      • Rogue
      • Lockheed
    • Bad guys:
      • Ultron
      • Bulldozer
      • Piledriver
      • Thunderball (The last three, along with Wrecker, comprise the Wrecking Crew.)
  • A few interesting wrinkles:
    • The two sides were summoned to separate camps.  Surprisingly, Magneto ended up in the good guy camp.
    • Galactus, interstellar behemoth that he is, doesn't take much notice of the others.  He tries to attack the Beyonder (unseen) on his own but fails.  

Secret Wars #2
June 10, 1984
Shooter/Zeck
  • Magneto breaks off and finds his a third fortress, essentially creating his own individual faction.
  • The fighting continues.

Secret Wars #3
July 10, 1984
Shooter/Zeck
Volcana via Marvel Database

  • Titania and Volcana make their first appearances, both on the bad guy side.  Mattel requested some new female characters.
  • Magneto captures the Wasp and holds her prisoner in his fortress.  He tries to charm her over to his side.  It appears to work.
  • On the good guy side, everyone misses their wives and girlfriends.
  • Spider-Man has a tussle with the X-Men.  He suspects them of breaking off to form their own faction.  He's kind of right, though their intentions are good.
  • Molecule Man drops a mountain on top of the Avengers.
  • The fighting continues.

Secret Wars #4
August 10, 1984
Shooter/Bob Layton
  • Haha!  Wasp was just fooling Magneto.  When the X-Men arrive at M's fortress, she turns on him.
  • Thanks to Hulk's strength and Iron Man's ingenuity, the Avengers are able to escape from under the mountain which had been dropped upon them.
  • Kang dies.  Doom kills him.
  • The fighting continues.

Secret Wars #5
September 10, 1984
Shooter/Layton
  • Galactus summons his worldship, as big as a solar system.  Apparently, he plans to eat Battleworld.
  • Magneto is brought back into the good guy fold.  The X-Men initially bristle under Magneto's orders but Professor X convinces them it's in their best interest to cooperate.
  • Dr. Doom finds his way aboard Galactus's ship where he finds the tools he needs to defeat everyone, Galactus and Beyonder included.
  • The fighting continues.

Secret Wars #6
October 10, 1984
Shooter/Zeck
  • After escaping from Magneto and the X-Men, Wasp finds herself on her own.  She encounters Lizard and the two develop a refreshingly trusting relationship.  Lizard is, after all, a more nuanced character than most of the other baddies.  They both get picked up by The Wrecking Crew, in Wasp's case, after they've knocked her unconscious.
  • While on Galactus's ship, Dr. Doom encounters a very woozy Klaw and brings him into the fold.
  • Storm and Charles quarrel over who is in charge of the X-Men.  Charles wins.
  • Galactus has nearly finished his planet eating machine.
  • The fighting continues.

6 comments:

  1. Wow... I have forgotten almost all of this.

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    Replies
    1. In my opinion, it's a highly forgettable series. Lots of gimmick. Not much substance.

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    2. But some significant things happen it, so there's that.

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    3. Yeah... I just finished the series yesterday. I'm glad to be moving on.

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